Thursday, May 28, 2020

I can breathe

Stories and News No. 1202
I can't breathe. Maybe because I just can’t or someone has decided, judged and sentenced that my life has come to an end.
This may happen right now, but not suddenly, since there is nothing new in this legalized and generally tolerated misdeed.

I cannot breathe were George Floyd’s last words on this earth.
But he was not the first and sadly will not be the last to be killed with impunity, in spite of all human decency, even before its legal basis.
#Icantbreathe is also a viral and passionate hashtag, to vent outrage and claim justice on the digital collective blackboard.
I can't breathe became we can't suffer that without pushing back. it is the angry scream of a portion of humanity with the wrong melanin only a mad, pale look; citizens like the others on the paper, who overturn their resentment to the State they belong to, but that insists on institutionally raping them; since it does every holy day since it kidnapped their ancestors overseas.
However, I can't breathe is also the unheard and heartbreaking last call of a horrendously huge number of our fellow human beings, who are equally murdered before our eyes, in all the insensate ways that a perverse imagination is capable of.
In open-air or fake prisons that we aseptically call detention centers or camps, submerged by the waves or poured on heaps of rotten wood and deluded hopes, sheltered by shelters that
they do not shelter at all and refugees among the clutches of those who promise shelter - and instead give the opposite - there are innocent creatures whose last breath is taken too; most of the time the only natural wealth that survived in their body.
For these and other billions of reasons, as many as the programmed victims who are also now added to the sad list, I feel compelled to remember that I can breathe.
I can breathe and for this reason I feel the urgency of not wasting air, but making my voice heard at any moment I become witness, directly or not, of even just one of the aforementioned killings.
To be honest, being able to breathe I have the opportunity to do something good before the innocent air is taken away by the bullies of this world, recognized murderers or disguised under any uniform.
I can breathe, so I could also remind myself to remain silent, sometimes, when every word is too much, and it would already be something.
Because I can still breathe, and maybe I know for sure that tomorrow and also the following day will be the same. Then I could use this time to reflect and study a long-term strategy that seriously favors change for those who suffer racist violence on their skin every single moment of their life; whether it ends abruptly for the abuse of a policeman or for the indifference of entire continents.
The consequences of such awareness would be incredibly virtuous. For example, knowing I can breath, I could finally notice those who are forced to live everyday holding or even modulating their breath; maybe afraid of being overwhelmed by the fury of the first passer-by hater.
Be brave, therefore. Today let’s stop the lungs to join the protest, but let's not forget to give sense to the privilege of choice when the hype will end and everything will return wrong as it was before...

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Under the mask

Stories and News No. 1201
Once upon a time there was Cox’s Bazar, a city on the coast of southern Bangladesh, a fishing port, a tourist town and a seaside resort, whose beach is known to be among the most pristine in the world.
Under the aegis of the second city of the state, Chittagong – now only administratively, Cox's Bazar was a land of conquest for many, from Tripuri to the Rakhine’s kings, up to foreign invaders, like Portuguese and British. The name is due to the last of such robberies, disguised by the culprits themselves and complicit history in the shape of a harmless commercial enterprise: the market of Captain Hiram Cox, in charge of managing the colonial possession.
As you can see, there is much more to discover under the mask and beyond. And we are only at the beginning. In fact, making a leap in time here we are to the city hidden in the stolen one, divided between the Kutupalong and Nayapara camps, both reserved to Rohingya refugees.
About a million people. Nearly a million lives. Little less than 1000 times 1000 between women and men, elderly, young people and children too. But what usually remains in mind, we are talking about yet another among the many legalized prisons for unwanted citizens.
Look at the border that delimits this institutionalized abomination:

Look with me at the wall that divides the outside from the inside; the lawfulness from the offense; underestimated freedom from the most unjust imprisonment. I don't what you think, but immediately after a lot of questions with no apparent answer deflagrate in my head. Among the many: who really endangers the others, between them and us?

It seems that this crazy wall resembles the masks we are wearing in these difficult days to protect ourselves from the virus.
There is something strange about not being able to read the lips of the speaker expressing thoughts and feelings; it is a common and humanly normal habit, regardless of whether hearing works perfectly or not.
There is something wrong with not being able to look at the special mimicry, between the uniqueness of a spontaneous smile and the annoyance of a grimace of disgust, the profile of a winked kiss and an irreverent tongue to minimize the tension.
Under the mask and beyond we are losing a world of information of a great preciousness. But it is necessary, because there is a virus that kills around, and this should be enough.

But what is the disease that on the other hand we fear in those we keep closed in a fence as if they were ferocious and bloody beasts?

Now, if this were not enough to make us reflect on the madness in it, the climate does its part, in addition to Coronavirus itself, to make everything grotesque in an extraordinary way.
Not even a week ago, the first cases of Covid-19 infection were detected in the infernal camp mentioned above, while today we saw that both Bangladesh and part of India have been hit by Cyclone Amphan, the most violent one of the past twenty years. Wherever the tornado has passed it has left destruction and chaos. Twenty died, many are missing and millions are displaced around, as it has happened before. The inhabitants of this land have lived together since long ago with the curse of being the object of attention of these plagues.
One of the most tragic aspects, however, given that the cyclone's action has not yet ended, concerns the risk that prisoners are currently facing in the refugee camp.
The danger is real to them, but it's everywhere now. The virus inside and the cyclone outside, and they both don't care about walls and borders.
Under the mask and beyond, even outside of it, for them the end could come anyway, and the unjust prison sentence becomes a death one, further highlighting the inhumanity of places like these.
Forgive me, but I have the clear impression that over time nature is doing everything to show us how wrong we are with each other...

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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Health is wealth

Health is a right, health is everything, health is the most important thing in life, health is a precious good, health is the first thing.
Health is wealth...

Stories and News No. 1200

Once upon a time there was health.
It was there and, for good luck of those who can enjoy it, it is still there.
For all the others, perhaps it could be in the future, but not forever and we should to think about that every now and then.
To tell the truth, it would be appropriate to keep in mind every day what unites us all, which concerns each individual. Among the various benefits of such a virtuous practice, we would not waste time and mind dividing each other.
Well, health is like that, exactly like the current virus that is attacking it all over the world. It is a global issue which we are all connected to.
Ultimately, it works a bit like happiness; it stays up there, it wants to be admired, while the rest of us outstretch his fingers wishing us not only to grasp it, but above all to hold it tightly in the hand and in every atom of the vulnerable body.
Nonetheless, like most human gifts, we fully understand its importance only when we risk to lose it. Yet the words to say it are there, within everyone's reach.

Dictionaries define it as a condition of efficiency of one's body organism which is experienced individually, according to age, as a state of relative physical and mental well-being characterized by the absence of serious disabling pathologies. A state of physical well-being and harmonious psychic balance of the human organism, as it is free from diseases, imperfections and organic or functional disorders.
However, more than ever in such a tragic situation that the whole world is experiencing, we are reminded that health is wealth. And as for money, real estate, shares on the stock exchange, gold, diamonds, barrels of oil and any other unit of measure for human prosperity, it also has varied and controversial origins and benefits.
It is the revenue earned honestly through a daily and conscious commitment taking caring of us and our loved ones; paying careful attention to the nourishment of the body as well as the mind, both to physical and spiritual hygiene.
But it is also the inherited fruit by mere chance of birth or simple kinship; as more or less lawful trading goods; indirect gift of a privileged environment which perhaps no contribution has been made to; quite the opposite, most of the time.
Equally similar to the most satisfied of monetary laws - money always goes where money is - health improves where there is health; and at the same time it worsens tragically where it is already precarious. Obviously, unless a rare but still effective action that seems to be called solidarity.
Similarly to money, health is often bought with health; sometimes it is purchased by paying with others’ health and that is the worst of human crimes; but extremely difficult to punish, like any evildoing whose evidence is hidden in the mirror that we look in the morning.
Some place it in ideal financial institutions, made specifically to make the most of the ease of a balanced breath, the harmony of moderate blood pressure and the friendliness of a rightly relaxed heart beat. It is only an illusion, of course, with the sole purpose of convincing us that nothing bad will ever happen to us; unless a pandemic, that’s right.
Health is the offering which we pay with, or not, for access to the places appointed to our service and to those of the community. This has always been the case, even before the queue for measuring the fever temperature at the entrance.
This has always been the life of most of humanity and the rest of us too, turned away from the unexpected, as long as it does not burn; perpetually focused on the favorite image uploaded to the desktop or the nicest mobile app.
Among other things, all underestimated, health is a woman, its fundamental essence and a guarantee of survival.
It is also the heart of each childhood, but you also read it as the most fragile and misunderstood of our common treasures.
Health is the only wealth.
Let's remember it, please, when we wiil start taking it for granted...

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Thursday, May 7, 2020

In the limbo of migrants

Stories and News No. 1199
Hello, planet earth.
We call you from the Limbo, but you may also think about it as a seemingly far away place.
So, we are here, but also there, among the invisible cracks within human decency; over there, down there, or if you prefer sideways to the more convenient horizons - and we are still alive.
We are, despite everything and everyone. Although over time the perception of existence has deteriorated so much that the detestable meaning of a mere survival is now only a memory.
That is why we rely on the only certainties that remain: the beating heart, although at each toll it wonders whether it is appropriate to continue knocking on the world’s doors; the air that invades our lungs, although - conscious of how little clean oxygen it contains – it feels compassion for the rest of us; and our torn but indomitable imagination that persists in scrutinizing the surrounding universe in search of that phantom star called humanity.
Marveled by this unnatural sentence without a reasonable crime, but neither trial nor sentence, two words define the abominable state which they transformed us in: we cannot.
The first plural person of the verb “power” is the only one granted to us, with all the painful and contradictory variations:
We cannot stay.
And we cannot leave.
We cannot expect justice.
And, almost simultaneously, we cannot make judgments about the misdeeds of our jailers.
We cannot claim respect and consideration for our needs.
And, at the same time, we cannot even think of limiting the privileges of the documented citizens, neither their rights, not even in exchange for just a crumb of the latter.

Because this is a perfect prison, according to all the current meanings: prison exists and works, this is what you need to know; but don't tell anybody what really happens beyond the walls that separate us from you; like a carpet which you carelessly walk on and which hides emotions and feelings similar to yours; only immensely more unfortunate.
It is like an island within an island, which is subject to alien as well as alienating physical rules. Time goes backwards, because when the future becoming present is perpetually worse than the latter, you end up counting the peaceful memories instead of the sheep to fall asleep; and when you find they are finished, you start inventing them yourself.
The most grotesque paradox is that even the name you are used to calling us becomes out of place: migrant. The most misunderstood present participle of history, because it does not concern only the verb itself, like all the actions that imply whole existences embraced by the mere meaning of the word. Along with our bodies that some have taught you to ignore, our loved ones left behind and all their dreams migrate with us; the colours that have filled our eyes and all the light that we have just touched with our mind migrate too; the kind words we hoped to hear on our arrival also migrate; all the information that our senses have collected over time migrates, from the most negligible to those pleasant. Because, in short, people migrate, only people do.
This is our personal lockdown. On the other hand, it's old story, nothing new. When the tree burns the highest price is paid by the most vulnerable branches and minor leaves. Well, our tragedy, however, is that the rest of us never climbed on the tree. We always remained down, crouched next to the trunk with the hand outstretched, waiting to be able to pick the fruit you forgot and hoping every time it was less wormy than the previous one.
This is the limbo where we are now and has nothing to do with the biblical one, of quranic interpretation; it comes neither from Dante or a figurative sense.
All that for a reason that most of our fellow human beings over the wall insist on wanting to neglect: we are still alive and, as long as the breath allows, we don't want to die...

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Thursday, April 30, 2020

From the point of view of Earth

Stories and News No. 1198
Once upon a time there was earth, which luckily still is.
Think for a moment, afflicted and limited by the lockdown, of escaping from yourself more than your home.
Let's imagine that we are something else, something immensely larger and certainly more welcoming. I am referring to our planet, often underestimated and mistreated.
I try myself: a little acting method, I close my eyes and... bam! Here I am, speaking as the earth from now on.
First, I say it immediately to avoid misunderstandings and complaints: there is nothing personal in what I will say. I am your planet, but not only yours. Every now and then it doesn't hurt to remember that, even to myself.
Nonetheless, I am perfectly aware of the hard times that many are facing, with more or less tragic tones, mainly because of conditions before the spread of this virus.
Covid-19 has led to the death of more than 220,000 people to date and the tragic consequences for the standard of living and the survival of a huge number of families have yet to be fully calculated.
However, as suggested at the beginning of this story, I renew the invitation to everyone to put yourself in my shoes, mother earth.
Perhaps, wearing these, you also could not help

but look carefully at the fact that the brakes placed on economic activities of many types, all over the world, have led to cuts in carbon emissions that previously would have been unthinkable: the 18% in China between February and March; between 40% and 60% in recent weeks in Europe. Habits and behaviors once considered sacrosanct have been reversed: road traffic in the UK has decreased by 70%. Global air traffic has halved. In the meantime, a much needed spotlight has been thrown on man's troubled relationship with wildlife, with some experts arguing that degradation of the natural world and exploitation of other species are among the causes of the pandemic.
For my part, as planet earth within a page - or sacred natural temple protecting the fundamental conditions that allow life, I observe with inevitable interest a recent study, which declares that the improvement of the quality of the air over the past month of coronavirus lockdown has led to 11,000 fewer deaths in Europe. That the sharp drop in road traffic and industrial emissions has resulted in millions of days of absence from work, thousands less of children who develop asthma, thousands less of visits to the emergency room and premature births, according to the data of the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
I read with keen curiosity that, compared to the same period of last year, nitrogen dioxide levels decreased by 40% while the tiny particulates - known as PM2.5 - decreased by 10%; which means people can breathe more easily. These two forms of pollution, which weaken the heart and respiratory system, are together normally responsible for around 470,000 deaths in Europe every year.
Still in the guise of planet earth, I inevitably noted that limiting to Europe the greatest number of deaths avoided by pollution were detected in Germany (2,083), followed by the United Kingdom (1,752), your Italy (1,490), France (1,230) and Spain (1,083).
Furthermore, if the same calculation was made all over the world, the number of deaths from pollution avoided would be much higher because this study focuses on Europe within a month, rather than since the global pandemic that started from Wuhan six month ago. It is a fact that the two most populated and polluted nations in the world - China and India - have suffered some of the strongest falls in air pollution.
Obviously, like the main author of the analysis, Lauri Myllyvirta, I also think it is difficult to consider the positive sides at the moment, given that many people are dying. The restriction measures that have been taken are causing many economic and other difficulties, but this is an unprecedented experiment in understanding how to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.
That's why everyone, especially the people who work on air pollution, must pay attention to it, perhaps wondering: and if there was this type of air quality not because people are forced to stay at home but because they have managed to convert the human society to clean transport and energy?
Humanity is temporarily retreating during the lockdown, I repeat, but in these days wildlife has run a much lower risk of being hit by cars and trucks. I read that only in the United Kingdom Every year, around 100,000 hedgehogs, 30,000 deer, 50,000 badgers and 100,000 foxes die, as well as barn owls and many other species of birds and insects.
Many city councils have delayed cutting the grass at the roadside - one of the last remaining habitats for wild flowers - which should bring a riot of color to the countryside this summer and provide more pollen to the bees.
Coyotes, normally shy about traffic, were spotted on San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Deer graze near Washington homes a few miles from the White House. The boar is becoming bolder in Barcelona and Bergamo, in Italy. In Wales, peacocks crossed Bangor, goats strolled through Llandudno and sheep were spotted among the playgrounds in Monmouthshire.
Well... bam! I'm back in myself. As far as I can, it is obvious.
Forgive me if I seemed indelicate, it wasn't my intention. But I believe that the earth’s point of view of is useful to consider in every moment of our life, even the most difficult ones.
Because at the end of the day, willy-nilly, the interests of our planet coincide with ours.
So it was before, so it is now and so it will be as long as our species will live.
In a very few words, is it possible that the only way to slow down the destruction of our planet is the lockdown?

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Thursday, April 23, 2020

If now

Stories and News No. 1197
Observing the particular moment we are living, here are some words dedicated to all the children and kids around the world confined at home, inspired by the poem If, by Rudyard Kipling.

If you will be able to play with whoever you have next to you and in every moment, having just quarreled too – especially in such a case. With your sister who seems too old, with your brother who seems excessively different, with your father who seems very busy now too; and with your mother, even if you would never want to tire her further, when you see her jaded.

If you will find pleasure anyway playing alone, since your friends are all far away, now.

If you can manage the lack of them without being

much sad, moved by the belief that they are still out there, equally waiting to meet you again.

If you will be able to withstand the distance from playing fields, lawns and any other place where you loved to let your legs dart, your arms dance and give voice to every part of your body.

If you will remain calm, despite the sacred need to flood your face with sunlight, caress your limbs with fresh air and touch every gift of nature with your brave fingers.

If you will have the strength to accept that sometimes life steals our time without anything we can do about it.

If you will have the patience to wait for the right moment to recover every day, minute and second that was up to you.

If you will be able to understand that nature, in all its disparate forms, can take away loved ones from us before our own eyes; but never from our heart, if we don't allow it.

If in this particular situation you will understand that school is not about desks and chairs, blackboards and classrooms, not even the building, but only you, your classmates and your teachers, those who live there and make it alive.

If you will know how to be passionate about filling time when it is more in your hands than others, and remember to do the same when exactly the opposite will happen.

If you will learn once and for all that happiness begins building it along the people you live every day with, the ones you wake up in the morning and share rest and dreams at night with.

If you will understand that true creativity is what you need when you can only dispose of the tools that are granted to you.

If you will grasp the idea, to keep it forever in you, that the only freedom nobody can ever take away from you is what you can love, grow and shine in the only space you have got.

If, especially in these times, you will keep in mind as the most precious of gifts that affection and understanding between people do not depend on the distance that separates them.

Finally, if you will treasure the things you have learned during these strange days, when we will go back walking and embracing each other without fear, you will be a stronger and happier person about the life he has; and if all that wasn't enough, the world will be yours again.

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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Quarantine of the universe and the miracle of life

Stories and News No. 1196
A little fairy tale from the future waiting for the return to normality...

Once upon a time there was an earth, a different one, I admit it. I hope to live there, and then I write about it. Because telling stories helps me have faith in a better ending.
I will tell about this planet of a distant but possible future, using past tenses. It is much easier to me. Or, maybe, it helps me to convince myself that I have experienced this story firsthand. However, the earth was no longer just a planet. Like none of us is only a single human being.
In fact, as in a science fiction story that finally becomes a chapter of contemporary history, the world that hosted us was an active, aware and therefore dreamy part of something much bigger: the wonderful and undervalued universe.
“There is life out there”, stellar storytellers shouted long before. “We are not alone”, confirmed the investigators of still nameless galaxies, known as scientists.
Well, they were all right about the extraterrestrials. There were so many of them, spread among the myriads of celestial bodies beyond the earth orbit, that the list must be updated every hour. And it was a festive occasion, you know? Thanks to the words, which often hurt, but they can make us

happy too. The news is that we will no longer called them aliens or UFOs, moved by ancestral fears. Not allusively the others or those ones, neither suspiciously them. We just saw the tangible magic, having understood that it is the only thing to start from and to admire: someone call it life.
Therefore, they were all alive, as we are and will be. Living creature of the universe, all the best that unites us and makes us neighbors.
There were difficulties, obviously, this is undeniable. Sour conflicts and disagreements without logic, the worst ones; however, over time everyone came to a wiser vision. And eventually the living began to coexist cordially with each other.
Nonetheless, universal nature is no different from the earthly one, and hides pitfalls in the most ignored places; like the realm of the small, or microscopic. Yes, even beyond the borders of the Milky Way, the living were inclined to focus their gaze on the gigantic picture at the expense of the tiny details. Often, what happens in the short term sooner or later reproduces itself in the higher dimensions; and the consequences are equally impressive.
In fact, all of a sudden, from one light year to the other, the entire universe found itself facing the same old enemy that each species had fought individually: an unknown virus. An infection never seen before anywhere, exceptionally contagious and very lethal.
I will not mention what planet was hit by the virus for the first time, because this was information of little importance for the living, of the earth or not; unless it was useful to study the virus itself in order to create a vaccine. Maybe because the priorities of the inhabitants of the universe were different, or maybe because there were no borders and lines on the map; consequently, no nations or provinces, borders and walls, flags to wave and hymns to intone. Only life. Varied life, suddenly at risk.
The universal response was rapid and compact: lockdown of the planets and quarantine for all living beings, with all the necessary actions, such as the treatment of the sick, the containment of infections and the study of the virus itself.
Obviously, it is an experience already lived in the past by many species and many found themselves re-reading the chronicles of the time, in order to draw lessons from their respective ancestors.
In the meantime, as the days passed, in every corner of the universe we began to feel the lack of what was normal before the closure of our atmospheres. How to travel in space and meet different creatures, explore new places and discover culture and life that could not be imagined until then.
Thus, despite the consequence of an extraordinary constraint, on every planet the living found themselves re-tasting simple actions considered for granted.
For example, on Kepler-22b the inhabitants began to walk up and down the avenues of their cities, along streets never used before, and then to stop before glimpses that they ignored, despite were so near their houses.
On the planet Tau Ceti e the living start to touch with open and curious hands the nature surrounding their reclusive existences, from leaves to animals, from water to air, from their own kind to the soil itself. In other words, as if they were newly born infants.
On Gliese 682 c, since they were unable to mount on a spacecraft to explore the magnificent unknown beyond the sky, many began to invent stories of pure fantasy on the worlds they had not yet discovered. Then they told them to the others and the latter thought about, and then recycled the tales as their own; then the original authors got angry at first, but then they calmed down because they remembered that had stolen their stories too; but they had forgot it, because they were too happy at the thought of considering themselves those who had started the show. So, it all ended in colossal collective laughter.
Because nobody in the universe could claim to have started the spectacle of life and light, and it is a great fortune, if you think about it carefully.
What about our beloved earth? Well, we too ended up concentrating only on what our planet and our mere existence had to offer. Nothing less, nothing more. Of course, I am talking about trivial things, at the time of space travel, like drinking water from a fountain, resting on a lawn sheltered by a tree or remaining silent, lying on the beach, to listen to the sound of sea waves.
“It is a real prodigy to be able to enjoy all of that”, each creature of the universe thought at the same time. It is as much as wonderful to hope to do it again, sooner or later. Because being alive is a miracle.

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Thursday, April 9, 2020


Stories and News No. 1195
I just read that one hundred doctors died of Covid-19 in Italy, so far.
A generic word, which indicates a profession, a role inside the society, but also an image common to everybody: the guy with the white dress, the woman with the stethoscope, the man who control your blood pressure, the girl who signs your prescription; but also, above all, those you look for when you're ill. Like a sort of friends by duty, obliged to say “I’m here” in times of need.
Well, when there is a pandemic out there, the times of need is every second of their time, more than ours. Because while we are waiting outside, maybe complaining about the queue or the ticket, as well as for the ailment itself, there is someone beyond that door; the person who, when the aforementioned fateful moment arrives, will take care of us.
A hundred have gone away in Italy, among doctors, but also nurses have lost their lives for the virus; lives who were part of the so-called healthcare personnel; where the part that matters, more than the latter, is the former one: personnel. That is, people who take care of other people. In a word, us. All of us.
You never stop to be a doctor; it sounds like a rhetorical phrase, but it is not at all, given that among the missing doctors there are also those who, despite retiring, got back into the game; because it's a time of need, exactly. And there are

some who one day decided to make their life, more than their profession, a simple task: to answer to that call.
Yes, I know, many could come up with the word heroes, right now. A most abused one, mostly in the patriotic and military world. However, I prefer to dwell on the very human side of the fellow citizens who are left to us doing their job.
Of course, although doctors also have a life of their own and dear ones to care of, they have not hesitated to continue undaunted in trying to save lives; but we must not forget that everyone of them was there before too; sewing and bandaging, soothing and auscultating. They will also be later, anyway.
Well, this the focal point I would like to conclude with; in my humble opinion, I consider it of considerable importance. Often, these days, because of forced quarantine, personal and economic difficulties, stress and anguish, or any other consequence due to this pandemic, many of us are inclined to play the favorite sport of these times: the spasmodic search for an enemy; the one accountable for all our ills, even before the fateful patient zero. First the Chinese, then the government itself, the prime minister, and then the usual Europe, bad and selfish.
Well, I don't think it might hurt us, instead, to stress the importance of what we normally take for granted; more than ever to future memory.
Like our dear doctors.

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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Video call to the world at the time of Coronavirus

Stories and News No. 1194
The video call’s time.
Who could believe that it would become a regular, unmissable and fundamental event during our every day.
It is for those who continue “to be” school, despite the necessary full-time curfew; for those who work remotely, if the job carried out up to the day before the so-called lockdown allows this chance; for people who intend to feel close to the loved ones, maybe living alone; and also for those who just want to have a good chat.
The video call’s time is a precious, useful and rewarding one. However, things don't always go as smoothly as we would like.
For instance, maybe the streaming with the professor's lesson becomes slow and the image lags, or arrives late. So, instead of providing IT advice, I invite students to remember that according to UNICEF data dating back to April last year, more than 175 million children - which correspond to half of the preschool population in the world - they are not even enrolled in kindergarten...
Of course, it is also true that we are not alone at home and we often connect together. It may happen that the broadband is congested and that the video freezes on the best moment.
Well, in that case let's remember that according to the Global Digital 2019 research of the "We are social" agency, about 43% of the world population does not have internet, 4 out of 10 people on the planet...
Okay, but staying closed at home because of the Coronavirus, that face-to-face dialogue, albeit a digital one, could be the only comfort of the day.
So, in that case let’s think back to the fact that almost one billion people in the world, or about 840 million, do not have access to electricity...
Okay, no problem, right? There is time, we all have more time. We can talk later, maybe after

dinner, when there are fewer people connected to the network. In the meantime we could enjoy the chance to take a walk at least at home, or even just two push-ups in the room.
Well, between one bend and another, annoyed by having the same walls before our eyes, we could keep in mind that one billion and six hundred million people in the world live without adequate shelter...
Fortunately, there is an excuse for shopping, right? Never as in these times we have found ourselves appreciating that short walk with the bage and maybe a note with the things to buy. But when we find the dust mask and the queue more annoying than other times, let’s try to focus on a 2019 FAO report; it says that over two billion people in the world do not have the opportunity to feed on safe food, while about 800 million don't even have that...
Then we go home and when the chosen moment arrives we try again to video call, since the others are all sleeping, now, and nothing can go wrong. Not before we washed our hands with care and attention, of course. And as we rub them let’s close our eyes and think of the words by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, which estimated that two billion and two hundred million people in the world do not have drinking water services managed in safety, almost twice as many do not access to properly sanitized bathrooms and at least three billion cannot wash their hands...
Okay, finally we can connect, we warm up the PC, we search for the right App on the cell and I recommend, let's try not to talk about the usual daily charts, perhaps to share our alleged scientific opinion on the pandemic. We haven't all become doctors yet, right? Think if you lived in Africa, where each million people in Ethiopia and Sierra Leone there are only twenty-two doctors, in Niger and Malawi 19, and in Liberia there are 14, about one each hundred thousand...
Nonetheless, once the last virtual conversation of the day has ended, we cannot help but think of experiencing a difficult period.
There is a disease that kills outside and this scares us, inevitably and in a completely understandable way.
Therefore, when the fears become more distressing than usual, let's not forget the reality that still exists beyond the borders of our home, however closed. It tells us that, due to the aforementioned serious hygienic conditions, billions of people in the world, especially in the poorest and developing countries, they face the daily risk of contracting dangerous infectious diseases; and that only because of Tuberculosis in 2017 there were one million and six hundred thousand deaths; more than two hundred thousand of them were children.
This is the world that existed before our every video call and that is still out there, now, to face Coronavirus too and everything else...

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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Little Red Riding Hood and the Coronavirus

Stories and News No. 1193
History is teaching us. Short stories equally, but never as much as fairy tales.
Let's imagine, then. Let's imagine that Coronavirus has the boldness to infect also the vast realm of fantasy, proving to be just as fair as in the real world, making no distinction between tales, good and bad characters, undoubted protagonists and supporting actors.
Consequently, let's say that the notorious Covid 19 also spreads in the Little Red Riding Hood forest.
Well, I'm sure that mom would think twice about sending the little girl to bring sweets and medicine to her grandmother. Although she has certainly not worried in the past, given the presence of a ferocious and hungry wolf hidden in the bush. But I want to think positive. I always try to do it, and then we finally see the daddy in the picture. Since even in fairy tales the king's ordinance was needed to force him to stay at home.
Either way, this isn't the time for controversy, right? So, dad, mom and Little Red Riding Hood – which has now been renamed ‘Little Red Mask Staying at home’, get together on what to do: that poor old woman is alone in the woods. What if the virus infects her?
"I'll go get her," announces the father, finally on the field to take his responsibility. "I turn on the buggy, I fill up the horse and..."
"We have never had a buggy, dear..." his wife reminds him, the only person with a minimum of practical sense among the two.
"We could ask the hunter!" proposes Little Red Mask.
"Honey..." says Mum. “You can take that out at home. Besides, we’re not infected."
"Yes, but then how do they call the fairy tale?"
"You're right, my daughter."

"Anyway," says the father. "Little Red Mask is right."
"Daddy... couldn't you call me by my real name, for once?"
"Yeah," agrees the mother. "The thing is that... what's your name?"
"I see," the girl sighs, "let's move on."
"I said that Red is right, I hit him on the phone and..."
"What?" asked the other two in chorus.
"I take the telegraph and..."
"What?!" same as above.
"What about the Morse Code?"
"What are you talking about, dear?"
"All right!" her husband exclaims exasperated. "I'll send him a pigeon, is it good? Are racing pigeons okay?"
"Not at all, my love," his wife instantly chills him. “First, we don't have any pigeons. Second, even if we had them, given the queue at the market these days, we would do a better job cooking them than sending them around to carrying mails..."
"Mommy, what a cruelty!"
"Okay, okay, cancel the second one, honey. Third, I repeat third, the pigeon would never arrive to grandma , because that ravenous chasm disguised as a bad wolf would eat it in one bite, including the message for the hunter..."
At that moment there is a knock on the door.
"Who will it be?" asks Little Red Mask, Hiding Hood or whoever she really is.
"It could be grandma!" says the dad. "That old lady is really something..."
"No way, she's ninety-six, she's half-blind and has Alzheimer's in the fourth stage..." the mom reminds them.
"That's why the last time I went there she called me Gretel and wanted to eat me!" remember the little girl.
In short, all three go to the door and remain petrified, when in front of them they find the wolf standing upright, with a mask on its muzzle and a bundle of signs with sentences in sequence written above.
The scared woman is about to close the door, the man is moving back to grab the pitchfork he holds for security near the entrance, while the little girl is just very curious to know what the ferocious animal has to say.
"Wait," she says. "Let it talk."
The wolf nods to the girl, who responds in the same way, inviting the animal to show its message: we have been enemies by nature - we have also been enemies by the will of those who invented us - or only pitted us against each other to amuse the audience - but sometimes the moment comes when everyone's life depends on everyone's life - and when this happens, each one of us has the duty to forget about the character he was before - and the advantages that the story gave him - because only in this way we may succeed together.
So, it was up to the wolf to bring the precious basket to the grandmother and everyone survived happily ever after.

PS: Even if the old woman is still convinced that it was the Prince Charming with a strange fur and a two-day beard who brought her the gifts...

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Friday, March 13, 2020

Coronavirus Italy Video: 100 silver linings of staying at home

Stories and News No. 1192
Facing the most difficult moments, my life experience and especially others, older than me, have often advised me, strongly urged, sometimes forced, to concentrate on the full half of the water glass.
It frequently works, at least in seeking out that minimum of power so as not to let yourself be cut down more than necessary.
In some cases, rather than identifying the famous silver lining of things, it helps us to pay attention to the glass itself.
Full or empty it might be.
Yes, a common and normally underestimated object, the glass, like most of the tools we usually take advantage of.
Like our home, where in this particular situation we in Italy and many other countries are forced to stay.
Well, consistently with what has been said, I do it for myself and for the reader.
I try to list as many favorable aspects in this extraordinary as necessary captivity which we find ourselves in.

1. Home-bound we have more time for ourselves
2. More time to talk to those we share the roof with
3. More time to listen to them
4. More time to understand them
5. We run less and we experience the value of slowness
6. We notice for the first time details that we have before our eyes every day
7. Finally we have no more excuses to fix what's broken
8. To paint that wall
9. To tidy up that closet
10. To throw the useless
11. And to refurbish what is precious
12. We can read more
13. We can write more
14. We can laugh without being hurry to quit
15. We can make love without haste
16. We can make love in the morning
17. And we can make love the day time we never did it
18. We are experiencing what it means to be afraid of the same thing and it's real
19. And maybe some will stop being afraid of the same thing, but that never really existed
20. We can play with our children without thinking about before and after
21. We can play with our parents without thinking, period
22. We can play all possible games with our brothers and sisters, as there is time for each one of them
23. We decide our own time
24. That is, we only harmonize it with those we desire
25. We remember what it meant to call someone from far away, if only to hear his voice, because now it affects all our friends and acquaintances
26. We are forced to leave the house only for a valid reason and this will prevent us from running away, only to choose to go or not
27. With the antivirus masks we all become the same in appearance, and all infinitely different below, just as before
28. When we approach the window we look at the world outside with affection
29. We miss everything, from the sun's rays
30. To the rain
31. From the breeze on the face
32. To pebbles that get into shoes
33. From the good morning of the neighbor before resuming the usual run
34. To the moment right before getting off the subway train
35. We take the car less or almost nothing
36. So, we don't get stressed by traffic
37. We do not argue with the other prisoners of smog and scrap metal
38. We pollute less
39. We consume less oil
40. We slow down climate change and global warming, deniers or not
41. We have also time to think
42. To what we have said
43. And what we're about to say
44. To what we would not have done
45. And to what we want to do and we never took the time to think about it
46. We will quarrel, but we will have more opportunities to make peace
47. We will make peace and we will have more opportunities to understand why we had quarreled
48. We all face the same risk and, now, we all share the same desire to defeat it
49. We can better understand, even if only a little bit, what our grandparents told us about the fear of leaving home
50. We are dedicated to making our room more beautiful
51. We are dedicated to doing the same with those we love
52. We do it together
53. We do a world of things together again, which we used to do alone, despite living together
54. To eat
55. And to clear things
56. To cook
57. And to wash the dishes
58. To tidy toys up
59. Or even just watch a movie
60. We do normal things for the others that we have always had alongside
61. We wash him hair
62. We cut them
63. Or we simply comb them
64. We give her a shoulder massage
65. And we tell her nice things we never told her
66. Because there was no time and now there is
67. Consequently, there are no more excuses to not discuss the problems of a lifetime
68. We can calmly focus on many aspects of our existence, usually neglected
69. Our dreams
70. Those of others
71. Simple projects, but set aside
72. The impossible ones, but there is nothing wrong with taking them seriously, now
73. We can plan for tomorrow, illuminated by the light beyond the tunnel we took refuge in
74. Finally, we know how most human beings live every holy day
75. We know, finally, why for most of them our life is the light they lack
76. We learn to take care of our body to take care of our body, and not to get a like from who we meet on the way
77. Normal things will become extraordinary and it is also good
78. To shop
79. Buying milk
80. Bread
81. Fruits
82. Water
83. Or even some chocolate
84. Because, perhaps, we will no longer take them for granted when they’ll return to be just normal
85. We will understand better why we live with whom we live
86. Why we chose them
87. And why they chose us
88. Why we love them
89. And why we stopped doing it
90. Because only in this way we will have at least one chance to start again
91. Because stopping and starting again is often the only way to stop making the same mistakes
92. Never as at this time we have been attentive to the words of those who govern us
93. Never as at this time we have been attentive to the words of those who governed us before
94. And perhaps, never as in the near future we will be careful to who will govern us
95. Because it is in these moments we see who is reliable
96. And who takes care only of himself
97. A common problem to be tackled together is infinitely better to unite us than an invented enemy to divide us
98. It will be the most banal of all, but this is the best time to appreciate being healthy
99. Equally obvious, but true, we are alive and hopefully we will be so even when all this will be over
100. Coronavirus is equal, affects rich and poor, citizens of birth or just by desire, and the only way to defeat it is to remind ourselves that in this world we are all traveling on the same ship, whose name is still the one of the day we sailed

In one, rediscovered word: humanity.

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